This list of travel essentials for women includes all the items that a girl shouldn’t travel without.
It took me years of traveling and carrying heavy backpacks to master the art of packing – and even more so the art of packing light. I always ended up packing too much and bringing stuff that I’d never use or that was totally out of place; or forgetting items that would have been handy.
Now that I am finally a pro at packing, friends, family and readers ask me tips on what to pack, so I thought I’d share a list of travel essentials. If you are a girl about to embark on a trip – short or long, it doesn’t matter – you’ll be relieved to have someone tell you what to leave behind, and to share a bunch of useful travel packing tips.
Just keep on reading!
The Ultimate Travel Essentials For Women
Backpack or suitecase
The number one in the list of travel essentials for women is a good backpack or a sturdy suitcase. I am a fan of backpacks as they are easier to carry but – let’s face it – a rolling suitcase is so much easier to pack and keep organized.
When it comes to backpacks, you really want something that is big enough to carry your stuff, but not so huge to be impossible to lift. Your backpack should be:
- Light but sturdy
- Waterproof or at least with a rain cover
- With padded shoulders and hip bands
- With plenty of side pockets to keep things separate and within easy reach
- Opening like a suitcase as well as from top and bottom
- Adjusted to your body size – this is probably the most important thing!
Try the backpack before purchasing it, though it’ll never be the same as carrying it around when it is full. These are my favorite backpacks in the range of 60 to 70 liters:
- Osprey Kyte 66
- Ariel 65 – my overall favorite.
- Atmos AG 65
- Ariel pro – a very light backpack.
- Berghaus Wilderness 60+15 – good if you are a tall girl.
- Berghaus Trailhead 65 – a bit smaller than the wilderness, they also have it in 60 liters.
Not a fan of the backpack? You could opt for a suitcase such as this one.
A good daypack is another important item. It’s what you’ll carry with you on the plane and what you will use during the day while exploring. If you are backpacking, you may end up wearing your daypack at the front – yet, some are not made for that. My Osprey Daylite Plus is a great small backpack for a hike, but impossible to wear in the front.
My favorite daypacks are:
- Zomake Lightweight – it’s foldable, very light and comes in many colors to match your clothes.
- Osprey Skarab 22 – a very good daypack with plenty of pockets to organize your stuff, great for short hikes.
- Twentyfourseven 20 by Berghaus – perfect for a day in the city as well as a short hike.
You can also pack a small purse to use during the day. It should be small enough to be comfortable to carry around, but at the same time pack your phone, wallet, camera, water bottle and anything else you may need for the day.
Packing cube help you keep your backpack or your suitcase nicely organized. I recommend using one for your t-shirts, one for your underwear and one for your cables and camera equipment.
Ziploc bags have several uses. I normally use them to pack any toiletries that may leak.
The tech stuff
If you are a photography geek, your female packing list will include a good camera and a couple of lenses. This is the camera gear I normally travel with:
- A good DSLR camera. I use a Nikon D3300.
- A good lens such as the 18-105 mm, perfect for wide angle and a bit of a distance. I also use a 70-300 mm for wildlife photos.
- A few spare memory cards. I recommend getting one that is at least 128GB.
If you are not obsessed with photography, buy a good compact mirrorless camera. If you have an excellent smartphone, you can even just use that.
Miscellaneous tech items to add to female packing list
Other travel essentials for women include:
- A smartphone – you’ll use it to talk to your family and friends at home; to take photos; and to guide you through apps such as Google Maps. Make sure it is unlocked, in case you need to buy a local SIM card.
- A reliable power bank – in case you need to charge your phone on the go.
- A universal plug adapter – depending on where you are traveling to, this is vital.
- A kindle – a must if you love reading. Make sure to get one with a built in light so you can read at night too.
- A lock – to keep your stuff safe, especially if you sleep in dorms. Locks with combinations will spare you the hassle of fiddling with a key.
- Noise canceling headphones – a much needed item to listen to your favorite tunes while on a long flight, or when you simply want to silence all the noise around you.
Comfortable yet pretty clothes are the ultimate travel essentials for women. I love Kuhl clothes because they stylish yet comfortable. They have a great selection of hiking gear, but also trendy items perfect for a day of sightseeing.
My typical list of travel essentials for women includes clothes that you can layer to wear even on colder climates:
- 3 pairs of pants, best if in colors you can easily match. I love Horizn Convertible and Splash roll-up pants.
- A pair of shorts. I love Kuhl Cabo shorts.
- Long and short sleeves t-shirts. I suggest picking 100% cotton shirts for the summer ones, and cotton mixed with wool for colder climates. Throw in a thermal shirt if you are going to a very cold place. I often wear my Kuhl Intent Hoody, and the Kleo Hoody shirt. For short sleeves I pack the Kuhl Acacia and Kuhl Sona t-shirt.
- A comfortable t-shirt and a pair of leggings to use as a pajama.
- A tank top or two, to wear on warmer days. Bring stuff that can be easily dressed up or down depending on how you match it. I like Katrin Tank.
- A micro fleece – I love Kuhl Alska for extra warmth and Lea Pullover for something more casual and easywear.
- 6 pairs of very comfortable underwear and just about the same number of socks. Throw in also a couple of pairs or hiking socks if you plan to hike.
- A sports bra and a normal one.
- A rain and windproof jacket or a poncho. I have Kuhl Hydroflex.
- If your trip requires a warmer jacket, opt for Kuhl Skyfire Down Parka.
- A hat or a beanie.
- A light scarf – you can use it when it is cold, or to cover your shoulders if you are visiting churches or temples.
- A bikini swimsuit, if your trip has some beach or pool time.
- Long dresses or skirts – they are an essential vacation item that you can use whenever modest clothing is required.
You don’t really need to pack 5 pairs of shoes. I mean it!
If you have an idea of what you’ll be doing during your trip, picking your shoes will be much easier: If you are going to hike, hiking boots are a must as sneakers won’t grip to rocks and slippery terrain. Also bring a pair of flip flops (perfect for the beach and to shower) and a pair of comfortable walking shoes for when you plan to go sightseeing.
Here is a good selection of shoes:
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX – they are fabulous hiking boots.
- A pair of flip flops or walking sandals.
- A pair of good walking shoes.
- If you really want to feel all fancy take a pair of flats. They pack really small.
A list of travel essentials for women is bound to include a good dose of personal care items. Make sure to get yourself a good toiletry bag like this one – something you can hang and that has pockets to store all your toiletries and keep them separate. Here’s what to pack inside.
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss – they are so essentials, and yet so easy to forget!
- Make-up remover – after a long day of exploring you will want to properly wash your face. You can even opt for cleansing wipes such as these.
- Lip balm – you really don’t want cracked lips while on holidays!
- A razor – unless, like me, you have invested in permanent hair removal (it’s a life changer your girls!).
- Deodorant – you may want a travel size you can bring in your hand luggage to freshen up in long flights.
- Sunscreen with very high SPF
- After sun lotion – after a day in the sun, you really want to replenish your skin!
- Hand sanitizer
- Nail kit – you want to be able to file a nail or just cut it in case it breaks.
- Solid shampoo – it’s much lighter and smaller to carry than liquid one, and it’s great on your hair! I am a fan of Lush products – if your town doesn’t have a shop, you can purchase online. They deliver anywhere!
- Solid conditioner – for the same reasons.
- Face moisturizer – keep your skin nice and soft. I normally prefer packing something I have already been using, just in case a new product gives me allergy.
- Tea tree oil: perfect to put on insect bites and on minor cuts.
- A menstrual cup – it produces zero waist and thus is much more environmentally friendly than tampons and pads. Pick something that fits you in terms of size and feel, or else wearing it is a real hassle.
First Aid Kit
Make sure to add a first aid kit with at least some basic medications and your prescription drugs. You should include the following:
- basic pain relief medicines such as paracetamol.
- imodium or any other diarrhea medication.
- bandaids and other bandages.
- antiseptic wipes and cream.
- cortizone cream.
Miscellaneous items to add to your female packing list
Other things you should be including among your travel essentials for women:
- A travel pillow – unless you are flying business class, you really want something to hold your neck and head on those long-haul flights!
- A personal safety alarm – it’s small to carry and easy to use. In case of emergency, you press it and it sounds very loud, attracting attention.
- A quick dry towel – for those beach days
- Ear plugs and eye mask – to help you sleep
- Head lamp
- Sunglasses – they protect you from the sun and the wind.
- Water bottle and filter – because you want to use less plastic
- Sewing kit – for fixing stuff on the go. Some of them are tiny!
By all means, this should never be missing! If you are still unsure whether you need it, make sure to read my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance. Otherwise, you can get a good travel insurance here.
9 Useful Packing Tips For Female Travelers
Pack light – no matter how long you are traveling for
Whether you are traveling for a month or for a long weekend, minimize the amount of stuff you take with you. Remember that there will be times when you’ll have to walk a few blocks to get to your hotel; or your accommodation won’t have an elevator or someone to help you with your luggage. The heavier your bag, the harder it is to carry it around.
Regardless of the duration of your trip, don’t pack more than 12 kgs!
A backpack is always a good idea
After having had to dodge a suitcase in the streets of Havana and Trinidad, avoiding potholes and dragging it on cobbled alleys, I have resolved to always use a backpack. Unless you are being taken from door to door and don’t have to worry about carrying a suitcase at all, a backpack is always a better option for it allows you to move more easily and it is much easier to carry up a flight of stairs.
Use a small backpack as a carry on
During one of my last trips with my sister, I was using a small backpack as a carry on, while she had her usual small rolling suitcase. As we were going through security, she was stopped by the airline personnel who demanded to weight her bag and forced her to take out stuff. They didn’t even bother looking at me and my backpack, which actually weighted more than my sister’s small suitcase.
Backpacks attract less attention and they are rarely checked for weight – probably because considered less obtrusive. Invest in a small backpack as a carry on, and ditch the small rolling suitcase!
Pack a change of clothes in your carry on
Luggage gets lost occasionally and you may get stuck in a city you don’t know, after a very long flight, desperately looking for some clean clothes and a change of underwear in shops you don’t know. Always pack a change of clothes in your carry on – something you can count on until your bag is delivered to you. Keep it simple – a pair of leggings and a t-shirt, or a light dress, and some clean underwear and socks.
Don’t put all your money in one place
If you are carrying lots of cash with you, don’t put it all in one place! Put some in your purse and some in your main backpack – if you get robbed, you will at least have something for small expenses until you get your documents sorted.
Keep in mind the places you are visiting and the style of your trip
The clothes you should bring with you vary greatly depending on the regions you are visiting and the style of the trip. In some cases you will be crossing several climates and you’ll have to be prepared for all of them. If you are joining a luxury guided tour, you won’t have to worry about carrying your stuff around.
For detailed, regional packing lists, check the following posts:
- Jungle Clothes And More: Everything You Should Include In Your Amazon Packing List
- Hiking Gear And More: The Perfect Patagonia Packing List
- What To Wear On Safari – The Ultimate Packing List For Africa
Unless you are traveling to attend a conference, an event or a business meeting, you should leave your fancy clothes at home. Bring pants and shirts that can be layered and matched with different items to create a variety of outfits. Take stuff that packs small, that doesn’t require ironing and that you can easily wash. Bring a t-shirt or a dress that you can easily dress up or down. And remember that nobody will think any less of you if you don’t wear heels.
Leave that hair dryer at home
You definitely don’t need to have perfectly styled hair as well. In any case, most hotel rooms nowadays have a hair drier and if they don’t, reception will lend you one.
Are there any other items that should be included among these travel essentials for women?
Make sure to read my other posts
- All The Useful Backpacking Essentials For Long Term Travel
- The Perfect Hiking Packing List For A Long Distance Trek
- The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler